Three Homicide Cold Cases Filed as a Result of Years-Long Operation by FBI Safe Streets Task Force
Martinez, Calif. – Today, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is announcing three homicide cold cases, involving multiple defendants who are gang members affiliated with the Sureños, were filed recently. The gang violence was focused in South Concord and near Monument Boulevard. This successful effort was due to the years-long investigation and operation led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and local partners, including Concord Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms along with our Office. Two cases were filed last week and one was filed yesterday, totaling four homicides involving 11 defendants.
Operation Boulevard Blues culminated in a major law enforcement operation last Thursday that resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals and involved 31 different law enforcement agencies. Thirty-four search warrants were executed in multiple locations across Contra Costa County and 42 firearms were recovered. The details of the operation were announced earlier this morning with our federal partners.
“Our local efforts working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners, especially Concord Police, will keep our community safer and take violent gang members off the streets of Concord,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “This successful operation started with a wiretap and led to multiple gang members involved in senseless murders and violence being arrested. While these cases were not solved right away, Concord Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force did not give up and fortunately we can bring some closure to the victims’ families.”
Overall, the DA’s Office filed three separate homicide complaints involving the following gang members of the Sureños – all of the alleged four homicides were done for the benefit of the gang:
• People v. Michael Valdez, Andrew Cervantes, Daniel Rodriguez, Docket Number 01-194377-8
o Victim is Marcos Villazon, Date of Alleged Murder is November 21, 2015
o Victim is Luis Estrada, Date of Alleged Murder is November 30, 2015
• People v. Rafael Lopez & Juan Barocio Jr., Docket Number 01-194379-4
o Victim is Victor Gutierrez, Date of Alleged Murder is April 17, 2014
• People v. Jose Cisneros, Marcos Ochoa, Luis Cruz, Aurelia Mendez, Antonio Mendez, Jose Ochoa, Docket Number 01-194418-0
o Victim is Erick Cruz, Date of Alleged Murder is September 12, 2015
The criminal investigations because of this operation are still active and ongoing. All of the defendants charged by the DA’s Office remain in custody.
More from Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office – Northern District of California
15 Charged on Drugs and Guns Charges as Part of Anti-Gang Sweep in Concord and Surrounding Areas
SAN FRANCISCO – Complaints were unsealed in federal court today charging 15 individuals with trafficking drugs and firearms in connection with the Sureños street gang, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, ATF Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, FBI Deputy Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair, DEA Special Agent in Charge Danny Comeaux, and Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos.
According to affidavits filed in connection with the complaints, multiple individuals affiliated with the Sureños street gang are alleged to have conspired to sell methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and firearms. According to the complaint, the alleged sales occurred across Contra Costa County, but primarily in Concord, with numerous transactions occurring in a shopping center parking lot at 1500 Monument Boulevard. According to the complaint, Sureño gang members claimed control over this shopping center, referring to it as “The Block” or “The Box,” and described it to undercover officers as a kind of “one-stop shop” for guns and drugs.
“Today’s charges explode the myth of the non-violent drug dealer,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson. “Drugs are expensive. Drugs are dangerous. Where we find drugs, we almost always find guns. What is particularly appalling about today’s charges is that the defendants did not even bother to hide the guns or drugs. Rather, the defendants allegedly peddled their products in broad daylight in public spaces.”
“Throughout this investigation, ATF has worked side by side with our partners to fulfill ATF’s mission of protecting the public by investigating the criminal misuse and trafficking of firearms in the Contra Costa county area,” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, San Francisco Field Division, ATF. “In April 2019, ATF began working with the Concord Police Department and then with other agencies to address problematic gang activity that was occurring within Contra Costa county. Law enforcement partnerships create an unwavering unified front against violent crime and this collaborative effort between local and federal agencies is evidence of our shared focus. ATF remains committed to working hard and doing our part to make this region a safer place as our pledge to protect the public is one ATF takes very seriously.”
“This operation exemplifies the dedication of the FBI and our task force partners to disrupt dangerous gang activity and remove the threat of criminals who endanger our neighborhoods,” said FBI Deputy Special Agent in Charge Craig Fair. “We are committed to improving the quality of life in our Bay Area communities and ensuring the safety of our citizens.”
“Nobody wins in a community where street gang activity exists. It threatens public safety and the security of our neighborhoods,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux. “These indictments send the message that law enforcement at all levels will work as one to pursue and prosecute criminal gangs and their associates.”
“We are thankful for our close working relationship with our federal partners,” said Concord Police Chief Mark Bustillos. “Violent crime does not stop at a city’s border, and our relationship with our federal partners allows us to bring those who use violence and intimidation in Concord to justice.”
Of the fifteen defendants charged federally, eight were taken into custody on September 10, 2020. Three additional defendants are due to be transferred from state to federal custody, while two more will stay in state custody as of today. The whereabouts of the remaining two federal defendants are unknown. The following chart summarizes the charges, custodial status, and next court dates for of each of the 15 federal defendants:
|Name||Age||Custodial status||Case number||Charges||Next court date|
|Luis CRUZ||24||State custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Luis RAMIREZ-CARRANZA||31||Federal custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||9/15/20|
|Phabel GUTIERREZ||38||State custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Angel MAGAÑA||26||State custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Ernesto MISSIEGO||18||State custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Christian CERVANTES||23||State custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Francisco CANO||34||Federal custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||9/17/20|
|Armando NAVARRO||42||Federal custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||9/29/20|
|Sheena MIDDLETON||35||Federal custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||9/16/20|
|Luis CABRERA||28||Wanted||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B(viii) and (b)(1)(C) (drug conspiracy)||TBD|
|Alexis PEREZ||23||Federal custody||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) (drug distribution)||9/18/20|
|Brian ALVARENGA||30||Wanted||20-71278||21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) (drug distribution)||TBD|
|Eric CARRILLO||23||Federal custody||20-71283||18 U.S.C. 371 (firearms trafficking conspiracy)||9/15/20|
|Juan CONCHAS-CARRILLO||25||Federal custody||20-71283||18 U.S.C. 371 (firearms trafficking conspiracy)||9/16/20|
|Kevin VIDAL||23||Federal custody||20-71284||26 U.S.C. § 5861 (unlawful possession of unregistered firearm)||9/21/20|
A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted of a drug conspiracy in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B)(viii) and 846, the defendants face a sentence of at least 5 and up to 40 years in prison, along with at least 4 years and up to life on supervised release, up to a $5 million fine, forfeiture, and denial of federal benefits. If convicted of a drug conspiracy in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C) and 846, the defendants face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison, along with at least 4 years and up to life on supervised release, up to a $5 million fine, forfeiture, and denial of federal benefits. If convicted of possession of an unregistered firearm, the defendants face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, along with up to 3 years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine, and forfeiture. If convicted of conspiring to deal firearms without a license, the defendants fae up to 5 years in prison, along with up to 3 years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and forfeiture. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The case is being prosecuted by the Oakland branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The prosecution is the result of a 2-year investigation led by the ATF and the Concord Police Department, along with the DEA and the FBI, as part of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force.